(Melville House, 2011)
Lars Iyer’s Spurious, based on the popular blog spurious.typepad.com, brings us into the relationship between the narrator, Lars, and his former professor, W. Lars and W. are colleagues yet W. always retains the upper hand in the relationship, belittling Lars constantly and reminding him of his own success as compared with Lars’s failures.
W., a pretentious, self-proclaimed thinker, reader, and writer, occasionally has moments of self-doubt and vulnerability in an otherwise narcissistic personal universe. He takes every possible opportunity to abuse Lars about his writing, lifestyle, lack of intelligence, wasted potential, and weight, even declaring that Lars will eventually need to wear elasticized trousers like those of American professors. W.’s obsession with messianism leads him to spend countless hours reading books he does not comprehend, traversing his life of self-declared intellectualism with his lion’s mane of ringlets and a manbag full of life’s necessities.
The duo travels quite frequently, drinking and discussing their shortcomings, alternating between highs of satisfaction with their intelligence and lows of accepting their failures. They are constantly seeking a leader, and have actually had three unwilling examples, to expand their lives and pull them along into a new intellectual realm.
Lars’s life is complicated by the intense, rare mold that is taking over every inch of his flat, damply weighing down on his emotions, furniture, and lungs. He makes halfhearted attempts to fix his flat as the mold threatens to leave him homeless. He calls in several experts, who are completely baffled by this hostile takeover, but he is mostly content to live in a moldy, unhealthy environment. It becomes a race against nature’s clock as W. harasses Lars to get some work done every day while Lars wonders if his moldy home will collapse around his coughing shoulders at any given moment.
Iyer has given us an anti-climactic novel about the dangers of complacency, with an amusing friend/abuser in the pretentious W. The relationship between W. and Lars has moments of harsh verbal criticism, tempered with some of tender concern between friends, and a white elephant of mold.